I recently retired and I am getting back into fine woodworking. Particularly hand tools. This summer I took a three week class at the College of the Redwoods in Fort Bragg CA (go Elephants!). Until I used their benches I didn’t realize what I was missing. I came home and decided I would buy one. Well I couldn’t find one that met my requirements so I decided to build my own. I got a copy of The Workbench Design Book by Christopher Schwarz. It is an amazing book. Now I must warn you that my construction will not be as heavy on the hand tools as Prof Schwarz’. An old saying goes that if all your tools are hammers then all your solutions look like nails. My skill set with hand tools pales in compassion with the professor. So my solutions will differ from his. I will continue to call him professor until he writes to tell me his preferred title. (Regent of Wood? Prince of Plane? The Big Tool?)
My bench will be 70″ long, 20″ deep, and 34″ tall. The top will be 5″ thick. The size is dictated by the size of my shop (22′ x 24′). I would like to make it taller (I’m 6′ 4″ ) but will sit behind my table saw and needs to not interfere with the saw’s out feed. If I need it higher I can away put spacer’s underneath the legs.
From my sketch you can see I am building a Roubo bench. Andre Roubo was an 18th century cabinet maker that documented woodworking in France. The professor can tell you much more if you are interested. I do not have details about the vises because I don’t have any (except maybe caffeine, alcohol, anything deep fried, and E A Berg chisels from Eskilstuna Sweden.) You can also see that I am cheating when it comes to cutting the tenons for the legs. It will keep a running tab on the cost of this bench. The rules are if I go out and buy it, then it counts. If I find it around my shop, it doesn’t. Fair?